September 27, 2021

Vaccines: pass of arms between Joe Biden and Facebook on disinformation

The tone rose on Friday July 16 between the White House and Facebook. US President Joe Biden has accused big social media operators of ‘killing people’ by letting fake vaccine news circulate as the United States tries to revive a sluggish vaccination campaign.

‘They kill people. The only pandemic we have is affecting people who are not vaccinated. They are killing people, ‘the Democrat replied to a question about what his message was to groups such as Facebook, as he prepared to leave the White House by helicopter.

Mark Zuckerberg’s group quickly swept aside Joe Biden’s criticisms: ‘The facts show that Facebook helps save lives, period,’ the social network said in a statement. ‘We will not be sidetracked by accusations that are not based on facts.’

The platform argues that ‘more than 2 billion people have seen authoritative information about Covid-19 and vaccines on Facebook, more than anywhere else on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have used our tool to find out where and how to get vaccinated. ‘

‘Pandemic of the unvaccinated’

Worried that the vaccination campaign will be bogged down just as the spread of the Delta variant is causing an upsurge in cases, the White House has clearly toughened its tone against the big tech groups, asking them to fight more against false information.

Misinformation ‘costs lives,’ Vivek Murthy, the chief medical officer of the United States, said on Friday. “Tech groups have let disinformation pollute our environment,” he added, calling on them to act “quickly and consistently against the biggest disseminators” of false information.

‘The message reaching us is clear: we are starting to witness a pandemic of the unvaccinated’, launched Friday Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the main federal public health agency. , during a press conference.

Over the past seven days, the United States has seen an average of 27,800 new cases daily (up 64% from the previous week), 2,890 hospitalizations (+ 36%) and 223 deaths (+ 38%) .

‘Unvaccinated people account for almost all of the hospitalizations and deaths,’ noted Jeff Zients, the coordinator of the pandemic response at the White House.

This resurgence of the disease is fueled by the Delta variant, which now represents more than 80% of new cases, according to the specialized site covSpectrum.

68% vaccination limit

The vaccines currently available in the United States, from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, remain very effective in protecting against it, but the vaccination campaign has slowed down considerably in recent weeks in the country.

Joe Biden’s goal that 70% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4, National Day, has not been met. This rate caps 12 days later at 68%.

Biden administration spokeswoman Jen Psaki had already specifically targeted Facebook on Thursday. ‘There are about 12 people who produce 65% of the misinformation hostile to vaccines on social media. All remain active on Facebook, while some have been banned from other platforms, ‘she said.

‘Facebook needs to be faster to delete dangerous and rule-breaking messages, messages that break their rules often persist for days. It’s too long, ‘said Jen Psaki.